Interview: Mirinda Carfrae

I was first introduced to Mirinda by a mutual friend as she had New Balance sneakers she wanted to donate and we had the perfect group of girls in need of shoes through the Soul Day Foundation!  After spending some time with Mirinda, I realized how being a professional triathlete is truly entrepreneurial.  There are mistakes, heart breaks, relentless times as well as joy, pride and passion.  I'm so very grateful Mirinda agreed to share a bit about herself and her journey with us.  Enjoy! 

CD: Where did your inspiration to become a professional triathlete come from?

MC: I guess it came by mistake, I was in the gym preparing for the upcoming basketball season and I met a couple of triathletes and their coach.  I didn’t really know anything about the sport but I was immediately drawn to it.  After being involved in team sports pretty much my whole life I think the individuality of it was intriguing to me.  That and the fact that they just worked so hard – I was always willing to go the extra mile and could outwork pretty much anyone on the basketball team but these girls were on a completely different level.  I wanted to test myself and see what I was really made of. 

CD: Can you walk us through a typical day for you? What is the best part of your day?

MC: Triathlon training varies from day to day but I guess the most typical training day starts with a 75-90minute swim, after that we head back home for breakfast.  Depending on the day we would then either take a few hours to rest or head straight out the door for a ride anywhere from 2-5hrs.  We almost always run off the bike usually just easy for 30mins – 1hr.  Once training is all done it’s time to refuel and recover.  This is the time of day that we usually try and catch up on emails etc.  The best part of the day is when all the training and computer work is done and I can spend time with my husband – usually horizontal on the couch.

CD: Any nutrition tips you’ve found that really work for you?

MC: The best nutrition advice that I have received it to make sure you refuel within 30mins after you have finished exercising.  You want a good mix of carbohydrate and protein to help your body recover as quickly as possible.  The best triathletes in the world are the ones that can handle the most work.  It starts with good recovery. 

CD: What did you learn from your biggest failure?  What would you have done differently?

MC: I won my first world title at the 70.3 distance in 2007, 2008 was the first year that I was actually making money from the sport.  All of a sudden I was receiving invitations & appearance fees to different races and events.  I wanted to do them all and did a lot of races that didn’t really fit my main goal which was to defend the title. The 2008 world Championships were a complete disaster.  I finished in 12th, way off the pace.  I was bitterly disappointed in myself. 

I am not sure I would go back and change this.  It was the disappointment in that performance that has shaped the way I approach every year and has resulted in an amazing Ironman racing career thus far. 

CD: What was the best piece of advice you ever got? The worst?

MC: Always take care of your body, treat it well and it will return the favor.  My coach Siri gave me this advice when I first started training with her.  As athletes we tend to work ourselves so hard always expecting more.  It's fine to do that but you should take the time to appreciate what your body allows you to do.  Listen to it, look after it and give yourself a break when you know you need one.  

CD: What advice would you give to aspiring athletes?

MC: Stay in the moment.  I find that you are your best self when you are focused completely on what you are doing in the moment.  Another little piece of wisdom from coach Siri.  Always stay in the moment - it's not easy and takes constant work but I know that when I am training or in a race and am completely involved in the moment I know I am getting the very best out of myself.  

CD: How do you let go and relax being in such a competitive industry?

MC: Oh, my husband and I are pretty good at this.   I think the key is to never take yourself too seriously and make sure you always see the bright side of any situation.  This sport is our everything right now but we always try to remember that we are so privileged to be able to do what we do.  On a particularly tough or stressful day a sneaky glass or two of red wine can help a lot too.

CD: What's your favorite book?

MC: The Alchemist

CD: Who would you most like to have dinner with?

MC: Michael Jordan.  He’s always been my sporting hero. 

CD: What's your favorite vacation spot?

Just one??  The one that comes to mind right now is Costa Rica.  I must be in need of some beach time.